Answer: The introduction of our VM Series of moving magnet (MM) phono cartridges reaffirms Audio-Technica’s commitment to high-performance audio reproduction. The new models, nine in all, are comprised of 500, 600 and 700 Series cartridge bodies and seven different versions of styli, including special line contact, Shibata, MicroLine®, elliptical and conical types. All versions are configured to optimize the playback of either stereo, mono or even 78 rpm shellac records.
A cutter head carves out the record grooves. The modulations in the groove are “analog” mechanical equivalents of the original audio signals. To “read” these modulations, Audio-Technica developed the patented Dual Magnet design which duplicates the structure of the cutter head. Instead of using a single, large magnet, the two magnets are arranged in the shape of a V. The two magnets are positioned precisely to match positions of the left and right channels in the stereo groove walls. Consequently, the VM design provides outstanding channel separation, extended frequency response and superb tracking. All models feature high-purity 6N-OFC (99.9999% pure oxygen free copper) wiring for maximum sonic purity and extraordinary resolution of fine musical detail.
The 500 Series family of cartridges is the entry-level series and consists of four models, all of which feature an aluminum cantilever, center shield plate between the left and right channels to reduce crosstalk, and a durable low-resonance polymer housing. The VM510CB uses a 0.6 mil conical-shaped stylus bonded to a round shank. Conical-shaped styli are the easiest to make and therefore are typically lower in cost. They are durable and long-wearing, but cannot provide the same level of fidelity compared to a more elaborate-shaped design. For example, the VM520EB, which uses a bonded elliptical-shaped tip, boasts greater channel separation, extended high-frequency response and improved transient response. The VM530EN nude-mounts the same elliptical tip (the tip and shank of nude styli are made from a single piece of diamond), taking the performance up a notch from the 520EB, with even greater high-frequency extension, improved transient response and clarity. At the top of our entry-level VM 500 Series family is the VM540ML. The 540 uses our popular MicroLine stylus, typically found only on more costly models. The stylus is nude-mounted using a square shank for precise alignment to the cantilever. The MicroLine stylus traces the record groove with remarkable accuracy, resulting in nuanced audio reproduction, greater channel separation and low distortion levels that elliptical and conical styli simply cannot match.
The 600 Series family consists of two models that are specifically designed for the playback of mono records. Each cartridge features a lightweight aluminum cantilever, durable low-resonance polymer housing and internal wiring dedicated to monaural sound reproduction. The VM610MONO for microgroove vinyl-type records uses a 0.6 mil conical-shaped stylus. The VM670SP for 78 rpm shellac or phonograph records uses a 3.0 mil conical stylus, making it an excellent choice for the playback of 78 rpm records from a wide variety of eras. Dual magnets are internally connected to reduce record noise and obtain a highly focused “centered” image.
The 700 Series family is designed to deliver the highest levels of moving-magnet type cartridge performance. Each 700 Series model features a die-cast aluminum-alloy housing that minimizes internal vibration and provides additional electrical shielding. Each cartridge also features nude stylus construction that utilizes a square-shaped or rectangular-shaped shank for precise alignment to a tapered aluminum cantilever, resulting in an excellent weight-to-stiffness ratio with reduced mass at the stylus end of the cantilever. Excellent transient response and resolution of low-level detail is achieved from this design. Three models are available. The VM740ML features Audio-Technica’s exclusive MicroLine stylus. In addition to its remarkable tracing accuracy, the stylus’s multilevel shape also wears better than other types of styli while reducing wear on your records. The VM750SH utilizes a Shibata stylus. The Shibata tip provides greater surface contact than an elliptical stylus does, enabling the pickup of ultra-high frequencies with low distortion and low groove pressure due to the distribution of the stylus force over a larger contact area. The Shibata tip is known for its faithful reproduction of frequencies in the lower part of the spectrum. The flagship VM760SLC features a special line contact stylus. The ultra-light weight of this smaller stylus allows it to trace record grooves with incredible accuracy and minimum abrasion, resulting in nuanced audio reproduction, very low distortion and low record wear. The special line contact tip is known for its clarity and detailed music reproduction.
If you have additional questions about these or other Audio-Technica phono cartridges, or need help selecting the best cartridge for your turntable, please contact the Audio Solutions Department.